Thursday, October 4, 2007

Viva España: Land of the British car commercial

Or, why I'd appreciate a little visual truth in auto advertising

You, dear reader, are in the marketing business. (I know, you're no whore to consumerism. Well, neither am I. Just pretend, OK?) Now then, it is your job to advertise cars, be they Fiats or Fords, to the great—wha ha ha! Oops, pardon me—British public. You make sure your filming crew is ready for the TV commercials you intend to produce. And so, with lights and cameras and not forgetting plenty of action in tow, off you go—to sunny Spain. ¡Hasta la vista, baby!
Make sense yet? I thought not.
Now perhaps I shouldn't make too big a deal of this point, because I honestly have yet to see a car commercial, in America, Britain or anywhere else, that didn't make me want to commit hari-kari so that I may never again have to suffer such an undignified assault on my senses. The point is, television (and radio, and newspaper) ads for automobiles are the height of absurdity. Actually, seeing Michael Moore on the cover of GQ would be the absolute height of absurdity, but car commercials come in at a pretty close second.
Think about it. As I said, your job is to market cars to the British. If you had any sense at all, you'd make sure that the commercial you produced would contain lots of rain-stained concrete, slick asphalt, grey clouds and downright miserable-looking people in greasy-spoon cafes drinking tea. But lo!, here comes the latest model Vauxhall Corsa, driven by a happy, smiling Rastafarian with reggae playing on his iPod-compatible car stereo, and suddenly the sun shines and people pour out into the street, partying in its wake!
Sound ridiculous? It's supposed to, it's a car commercial! But seriously, that's the sort of thing I'd have in mind if I was to market a car to the British.
Yet, in the nearly eight years that I've made my home in the U.K., I have yet to view a car commercial that didn't contain date palms, suntanned people and architecture that doesn't instantly sink the soul in the background. Hell, there's one Ford commercial that takes place in Barcelona. How do I know? I've been to Barcelona, and, the first time I saw it, I clearly recall exclaiming to myself, "Hey, there's La Sagrada Familia! Hey, that's La Rambla he's driving along! And, oh!, there's Barceloneta beach!"
The point is, I'm getting really tired of seeing the subtropical south of Europe in car commercials when all I've seen for weeks on end is cold, rain and wind. On most days, I have trouble remembering what the sun looks like, though I've heard you can't stare at it too long.
For Pete's sake, if you want to sell me an environmentally unfriendly product—bad enough as it is—at least don't patronize me by thinking I'm going to jump at the chance to purchase one just because some numbnuts was driving it along a palm tree-lined road.
How anyone living in Britain can see their own lives reflected in a commercial shot in Spain, Italy or the south of France is beyond me.
Methinks auto advertisers have been beber mucho sangria. It's the only explanation.

No comments: